NEW YORK, March 29, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Tony Corrente, National Football League (NFL) referee and a throat cancer survivor, is urging Americans to get screened for cancer during the 19th annual Oral, Head & Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®), being held nationwide April 10-16. More than 400 sites throughout the country will offer free oral, head and neck cancer screenings during OHANCAW®, which is sponsored by the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA). Information about the free screenings and local sites can be found at www.headandneck.org.
It is estimated that in 2016, more than 120,000 new cases of oral, head and neck cancer will be diagnosed, and unfortunately, many individuals will not be aware of their cancer until it has reached an advanced stage. Oral, head and neck cancers are now ranked in the top five cancers worldwide.
Mr. Corrente, an NFL official since 1995 who refereed Super Bowl XLI in 2007 as well as AFC Championship, NFC Championship, Divisional, Wild Card and bowl games, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2011 under unusual circumstances. While officiating at a Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens game, he was knocked to the turf during a skirmish between players. He took ibuprofen to alleviate the pain in his head and back, and found himself coughing up blood. Following several medical tests, a cancerous mass was found at the base of his tongue. Mr. Corrente, who wears uniform number 99, was treated with chemotherapy and radiation by specialists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He recovered and is now in good health and doing fine.
"My experience shows the importance of both screening for and early detection of oral, head and neck cancers," says Mr. Corrente, who credits both his medical team and friends with getting him through his bout with throat cancer. "I had no symptoms until the incident on the football field, and if it had taken much longer to detect the cancer, it might have spread and forced me to undergo massive surgery. Because I was diagnosed at an earlier stage, I was able to undergo treatment without serious complications and have a successful outcome. I encourage everyone to get screened for oral, head and neck cancers by taking advantage of the free screenings offered during OHANCAW® at hundreds of local facilities throughout the country listed on the www.headandneck.org website. I am living proof that early diagnosis and treatment can improve the outcome and chances of survival for people with these cancers."
While the majority of all head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use, the human papillomavirus (HPV) has emerged as a leading cause of oropharyngeal (tonsil and base of tongue) cancer, particularly in non-smokers and younger age groups. Over half of tonsil and base of tongue cancers are linked to HPV.
"Promising new research shows that people with oropharyngeal cancer caused by HPV who receive active treatment can survive considerably longer than those who are not treated, even if the disease has spread to other organs in the body," said Terry Day, M.D., President of the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. "These findings underscore the importance of getting screened and catching the disease early as a majority of diagnoses are not made until after the disease is in an advanced stage, resulting in both limited treatment choices and a more difficult prognosis."
About Oral, Head and Neck Cancers (OHNC)
OHNC are common forms of cancers affecting any part of the oral cavity, pharynx, throat, thyroid and larynx (voice box). Regular check-ups can detect the early stages of head and neck cancers or conditions that may lead to it. For those cancers caught at a later stage, treatment is available and may require various combinations of surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. More information regarding the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with oral, head and neck cancer can be found at www.headandneck.org.
OHANCA® and Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® (OHANCAW®)
In 2015, the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance expanded their Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness® (OHANCA®) program to be an on-going year-long campaign to educate the public about oral, head and neck cancers. As part of this program, Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week® is the pinnacle week dedicated to promoting education, prevention, screening and early detection of mouth and throat cancers. OHANCAW® is highlighted by free screenings and awareness events held at participating medical centers across the country. The 19th annual Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Week will be held April 10 – 16, 2016. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Lilly Oncology are providing funding for free screenings as part of the companies' support of OHANCAW®. For more information, please visit www.headandneck.org.
About the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance
The Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA), is the premiere non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives and improving the patient's quality of life via an organized and strategic alliance of all stakeholders. The united and collaborative approach focuses on prevention; early detections; advocacy, patient and clinician resources; advocacy and research. For more information on the organization or to get involved, please visit www.headandneck.org and follow the HNCA on Facebook and Twitter.
MCS Healthcare Public Relations, for the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance (HNCA)
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SOURCE Head and Neck Cancer Alliance